Holmgren steady as change looms for Browns

Associated Press Modified: September 3, 2012 at 5:32 pm •  Published: September 3, 2012
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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Mike Holmgren was hired to bring stability to the Browns.

Three years into his tenure as Cleveland's president, things couldn't be shakier for the franchise.

With the team on the verge of an ownership change, Holmgren said Monday he's hoping to finish out his contract.

"I've never quit anything in my life," he said.

Hired by owner Randy Lerner at the end of the 2009 season, Holmgren said he hopes to fulfill his five-year deal, which expires after the 2014 season.

"That's what my plan is," he said.

Things rarely go according to form in Cleveland, and during a 40-minute news conference Holmgren left open the possibility he may not be around too much longer. Lerner's sale of the Browns for $1 billion to truck-stop magnate Jimmy Haslam III is expected to be approved at the NFL's owner's meeting in mid-October — a session Holmgren plans to attend.

Once Haslam assumes control, the Browns could undergo a dramatic makeover at the top of the organization. Haslam has refused to discuss possible changes to Cleveland's front office, and Holmgren said he has not inquired about his immediate future.

Holmgren wouldn't comment when asked if he would stay if his role changes under Haslam.

"Let's just see how it goes," the 64-year-old former coach said. "I can't answer that right now. ... Let's slow down a little bit on that stuff and see where it takes us."

Holmgren said he has had positive discussions with Haslam, whom he referred to as a "good man." While the timing of Lerner's sale surprised him, Holmgren said he doesn't think the uncertainty has affected the Browns as they prepared for the season, which opens Sunday against Philadelphia.

"I think the players and coaches have handled the whole thing beautifully," he said. "Who knows what's in the deepest thoughts of people's minds if they don't tell you, but on the surface and how we're preparing and how we put the team together, I like what I see, so I think they've gone about business pretty well."

Holmgren acknowledged the current working environment under the backdrop of potential change has been unusual.

"All you can do is what you can do and I believe in the people we have here," he said. "They are going about business as usual. I talked to the whole building a while ago, not only the coaches and the football people, but everyone else in the building, and said, 'OK, you're good. We see light at the end of the tunnel and keep doing what you've been doing and we'll see what happens.'"

If the Browns, who went 4-12 last season, show improvement, Haslam might decide to stay the course and keep the front office intact. However, if the Browns start poorly, and with a young roster — 15 rookies, including the starting quarterback — and brutal schedule, chances are they will, Haslam could make swift, significant changes.